Leep student Ben Chiewphasa recently received a 2019 W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) of the American Library Association. The scholarship provides financial assistance to individuals enrolled in an MS/LIS degree program who are currently working with government documents in a library. Chiewphasa works as an adjunct government information librarian and cataloging specialist at the University of Montana and will transition to a tenure-track faculty government information librarian position at the University when he graduates in August.
Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?
I originally worked in archaeology and cultural resource management. Although I enjoyed the profession very much, I wanted more stability without needing to chiefly rely on seasonal work during the early stages of my career trajectory. Luckily, I serendipitously stumbled upon an opportunity to catalog maps and government documents at the University of Montana and decided to give it a whirl—I've loved academic libraries ever since! After a couple of years working as a cataloger, being involved with the Montana Library Association, and receiving encouragement from colleagues, I decided to pursue an LIS degree.
Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?
What sold me was the level of customization and flexibility for configuring your own "pathway." I knew I wanted to dabble in data science and instruction, but I also wanted room to explore other interests that may organically come up.
What particular LIS topics interest you the most?
Professionally, I am fascinated by data information literacy, research data support services in social sciences librarianship, and the dissemination of government information. I also am interested in fostering inclusive library spaces by challenging the perceptions between library users and service providers.
What do you do outside of work and class?
I live in an outdoor recreation mecca, which is great because I enjoy hiking, stand up paddle boarding, and floating on the river. I also have lots of fun with CrossFit. When it's too cold out, I like to just relax and listen to new music and investigate up-and-coming recording artists.
What career plans or goals do you have?
In my position as a tenure-track faculty government information librarian, I will act as the regional depository coordinator for the state of Montana, provide one-on-one research consultations, and participate in information literacy instruction. I hope to also build meaningful relationships with faculty and students in order to gauge research data needs that better inform robust library services.